By Shawna De La Rosa

Taken from

Dive Brief:

  • In the midst of male-dominated fields that can sometimes deter females from entering, mentorship programs are cultivating interest and opening up opportunities to girls in STEM, EdSurge reports. In fact, when it comes to the percentage of girls who understand the relevance of STEM and the possible jobs within it, there’s a 20% difference between girls who know a woman in STEM (73%) and those who don’t (53%).
  • Women only make up only 29% of the science and engineering workforce, EdSurge notes, citing data from the National Science Board. And when it comes to computing, Girls Who Code thinks the gender gap is getting bigger — by 2027, they estimate that only 22% of computer scientists will be women, down from 37% in 1995 and 24% in 2017.
  • It’s similar to a need for more diverse teachers that minority students can look up to — even if girls don’t get encouragement from a teacher, friend or family member, seeing a woman succeeding in STEM can show them that they can do the same. As David Shapiro, the CEO of Mentor, told EdSurge, “Research shows that life experience and human relationships give us a sense of what’s possible and help us navigate to those possibilities.”

Dive Insight:

Due to the high demand for STEM workers, entering these fields can make for a successful career. But while women make up roughly half of the labor force, they are vastly underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math. And the continued lack of a female presence in these jobs begets a negative cycle — if young girls don’t see women in these occupations, they have fewer role models to look up to and are less likely to visualize themselves in the space in the future.

Getting girls hooked on STEM doesn’t have to wait until high school, either. Elementary and middle school years present promising windows of opportunity to introduce girls to the science disciplines. In elementary school, roughly 66% of girls say they’re interested in science — practically the same percentage as boys — but in middle school, this number drops due to a loss of confidence and interest. By high school, only 15% of girls are likely to pursue a STEM college major or career. 

Jobs in STEM fields are often well-paid and often pay men and women more equitably than other areas — in STEM, women earn 92 cents for every dollar men earn. On average, women are only paid 77 cents per each dollar men earn.

Several organizations, including Million Women Mentors, work to match female STEM figures with young girls who are interested in these fields. The company also provides corporations with information on how they can develop mentoring programs of their own.

School districts can also work to introduce girls to STEM by promoting related activities from an early age and by ensuring they’re getting encouragement from teachers to pursue what they’re good at or interested in. Additionally, hosting expos that introduce girls to women in science — like Peninsula School District in Washington, which holds a yearly Career And Pathways Expo for middle school girls — connect them to female leaders who they can see as sources of inspiration.

Taken from

Women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields are more likely to advance professionally, publish more research and secure postdoctoral and faculty positions if their institutional culture is welcoming and sets clear expectations, according to a study of hundreds of Ph.D. students at four top-tier California research universities.

Mark Richard, incoming provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the UW.

Mark Richards, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the UW.Courtesy photo

University of Washington Provost Mark Richards, the study’s senior author, and a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) sought to understand how gender, race and ethnicity impact graduate students’ success in math, physical sciences, computer sciences and engineering, as measured by publication rates in academic journals.

The findings, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that doctoral scholars in STEM fields are more likely to publish if enrolled in well-structured graduate programs that lay out clear, unbiased expectations for assessing students and supporting their careers.

“Our study strongly indicates that the onus should not fall on minority students to make changes to succeed in STEM settings,” said Aaron Fisher, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study. “Institutional changes that make students feel welcome and provide clear guidelines and standards for performance are optimal ways to ensure the success of all students.”

“An important implication of this research, as reflected in several papers our group has published recently, is that essential interventions that promote the success of underrepresented minority and women PhD students in STEM fall mainly in the realm of academic culture, and do not necessarily require the investment of major resources. These interventions benefit all students, along with students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields,” said Richards, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of earth and planetary science who became provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the UW in July.

The interventions identified in the study are especially relevant to the success of black graduate students, who are publishing at lower rates than their peers, Fisher said.

While white, Asian and underrepresented minority males and females in STEM fields recruited for the study at the four campuses were found to have published at roughly equivalent rates, black graduate students were nearly three times less likely to have published a paper in an academic journal.

However, when accounting for black students’ perceptions of departmental structure and sense of preparedness and belonging, the statistical model used in the study shows that this racial disparity may be due in large part to negative experiences associated with being a minority in otherwise white settings.

“African Americans have been communicating for decades about the difficulties and discomforts of being black in white-majority settings, and our data represent a clear example of empirical support for that narrative,” Fisher said. “It’s not so much that being black results in fewer publications, but that the experience of being black in a university setting presents challenges and obstacles that white students are either not facing, or facing to a lesser degree.”

Among the new efforts underway under Berkeley’s leadership is the Research Exchange, a national consortium of nine universities made up of the four California Alliance campuses as well as Georgia Tech; Harvard; the University of Michigan; the University of Texas, Austin; and the UW. The Research Exchange facilitates inter-institutional visits for advanced underrepresented graduate students from these nine top-tier institutions to expand their visibility and experience when applying for elite postdoctoral and faculty positions.

The UW has long been committed to increasing the number of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields and was one of the original National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant recipients that developed a host of interventions to make the campus climate more welcoming for both students and faculty from these groups.

“Provost Richards’ commitment to diversifying the STEM study body, faculty, and workforce – and his deep belief that diversity is critical to excellence – was something that last year’s provost search committee saw as an important strength,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. “We expect that under his academic leadership the UW will continue to be a leader in this regard.”

The newly published study was conducted through the UC Berkeley-led California Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), a partnership of UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and Caltech that seeks to boost the ranks of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields among the graduate students, postdocs, and faculty at research universities.

Previous research published by UC Berkeley members of the alliance, which was launched in 2014 with a $2.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, found that underrepresented minorities publish in academic journals at significantly lower rates than their majority counterparts, placing them at a disadvantage in competing for postdoctoral and faculty positions.

“Publishing in academic journals is a key predictor of future success in academia, which is why our research is so concerned with this often-neglected indicator,” Richards said.

In addition to Fisher and Richards, co-authors of the paper are Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, Colette Patt, Ira Young and Andrew Eppig of UC Berkeley; Robin Garrell of UCLA; Douglas Rees of Caltech; and Tenea Nelson of Stanford University.

By Jennifer Folsom

Taken from

In my day job, I’m the chief of corporate development at Summit Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based data analytics and quantitative consulting firm. We’re about as STEM as you get. We hire statisticians, coders, programmers, economists and data scientists.

Women have consistently been underrepresented in STEM degrees and careers. According to a 2017 Department of Commerce report, women filled 47 percent of all U.S. jobs in 2015 but held only 24 percent of STEM jobs.

At Summit, 38 percent of our staff are women. This wasn’t by accident. In going after the very best talent, we created a corporate culture that attracts and supports many incredible women who in turn grow the careers of other female technical consultants. Here’s some of their top advice on how to work in STEM when you may be the only woman in the room:Don’t be afraid to give and get feedback.

Instead of being offended by feedback, try to understand where the individual is coming from and learn how to grow from it. Even if it is not delivered well. “Don’t limit yourself to giving feedback to your team,” said Tori Puryear, a senior consultant at Summit. “Oftentimes, your leaders are put into new situations or positions they have never been in before and could use your perspective as well. People will respect you if you can give and take thoughtful feedback.”Have confidence to share your opinions

It can be difficult to speak up when you’re the only woman in the room. “It always bothered me when others received opportunities because they were more vocal, even though I believed that I was more informed,” said Katie Lettunich, a senior analyst at Summit. “Gaining confidence to state my opinion, whether it be to a boss, client, or over-confident colleague, has presented me with more opportunities than simply holding back and waiting for my work to be recognized.”

Learning a little about a lot of projects can help you see connections where others don’t. Learning at least cursory skills in multiple technologies makes you in demand when project teams are staffing up and new roles are opened. “Coding in multiple software languages has made me very valuable internally,” said Laura Hoesly, a consultant at Summit. “I can work on lots of different projects and really influence the direction of my career.”Follow the footsteps of other women whose careers you admire

While there may be limited women in leadership to serve as mentors or sponsors, simply observe the career trajectory of women whose career paths you want want to emulate, said senior consultant Natalie Patten, “I use Kaye — a manager — as a template for parts of my career, and I either ask her, observe her or think to myself ‘what would Kaye do’ when I’m trying to advance my career through promotion, place myself well for a new case/project, or handle a tough client or situation.”Look around the corner

And what happens when you’re the only woman in the room? Olivia Hebner, a senior analyst at Summit, advised, “Look outside the room!” You might be the only woman in the current room, but there are absolutely other women just around the corner who are readily available to chat and help me solve problems. Women’s Affinity Groups within your organization are a great place to start. If one doesn’t exist, seek out professional groups in person like Meetups or online through LinkedIn Groups.